Sunday, August 9, 2020

Pens

 I love ink pens

I carry one with me

everywhere I go

As a writer, 

I am expected to have 

a pen

even when I am off duty,

you know, 

like when I'm 

at the grocery store

I'm not a writer then

I'm a mom and

I'm a chef,

but I have my pen

when I'm at a dance hall, 

or a museum

I'm not a writer then 

but I have my pen

I've seen all sorts of pens,

all kinds of colors and sizes,

some that are disposable

and some that are treasured

I have never

mistaken a pen for a gun

I'm trying to figure out 

how young black boys

are shot, accidentally, by

officers who know as much about

guns as I know about pens

A cell phone is not a pen or gun

but a professional gun holder

mistook a cell phone for one-- a gun.

The jury, 

the jury,

the jury

believed him.


Sunday, April 26, 2020

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Black Boy

Influenced by Wallace Stevens’ poem, “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird,” 1954



I
Among twenty armed officers,   
The only moving thing   
Was the falling body of the black boy.   


II
The root and the branches   
Of a family a tree In which there are 
love, and legacy, and memories of lynched black boys.   


III
The black boy is the greatest,
 And the greatest endurer
Of unnecessary, historical pain.    


IV
A man and a woman   
Are one.   
A man and a woman and a black boy   
Are one.   


V
I do not know which to prefer,   
The beauty of a black boys eyes 
Or the beauty of his creative mind,   
The black boy’s potential, sure bliss, 
Or the black boy’s tendency to love.   


VI
Bars filled the long hallways   
With barbaric enclosures.   
The body of the black boy   
Crossed it, to and fro.   
His mind,   
uncontainable,  
His spirit, still free.   


VII
O Men of Theology   
Why do you imagine golden hair?   
Do you not see how the wool headed black boy   
Walks around on feet   
Of polished bronze around you?   


VIII
I know valuable places and possessions  
And complicated, intricate creations-- ways of knowing;   
But I know, too,   
That the black boy is involved   
In what I know.   


IX
When the black boy emerged in the Western Hemisphere,   
It marked the edge   
of many improvements to modern society.   


X
At the sight of black boys   
Gathered under street lights,   
Even the asphalt beneath their sneakers   
Are blessed by their existence.   


XI
She rides around the country   
In an impossible glass coach.   
Each time a fear pierces her,   
She mistakes her fragility, and   
Insecurity, and false vulnerability  
For a black boy.   


XII
The earth is spinning.   
The black boy is her axis.  


XIII
It was a murmuration.   
It was black boys  
Gathering to show   
Black boy solidarity  
In spite of the many obstacles.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

You Make Me Feel Like Poetry

Ooh baby,
You make me feel like -- poetry


You got me wanting to do things with my lips and my tongue
You got me alliterating and stuttering s sounds just for fun
You got me wanting to keep more than my mind open
You make me the moon with a touch of sun


Ooh baby,
You make me feel like --poetry


Tonight let’s pretend that I’m the crescent And you the creator 
giving me one hundred twenty lessons, nothing less nothing greater
Mmm, let’s make stars with stars upon thars
Let’s write  the lines between lines
I’ll find your lines and show you where to find mine


Ooh baby
You make me feel like -poetry


I don’t want to be next to you
I want to connect with you
I want to wiggle, rhyme and wrestle with you
I want to be as essential as water to you
I want to make vowel sounds confused for music with you
Iiigh, Iiigh. La la la la la, laaaaa, laaa, la la. Oo Oo oou


Ooh baby,
You make me feel like --poetry


Your  poem is my heart beat
Your voice is the rhythm of my feet; when you speak I breathe deeper 
Each inhale is  an accelerant for the way my hips sway
Each exhale is well, each exhale is -should I tell?… each exhale is 
A capital letter, proper noun, exclamation mark your name sound
I don’t even remember who I was before I found your name on my tongue
Slipping out between my teeth and tingling on my lips


Ooh baby,
You make me feel like--poetry 


You got me comparing all the stars to all the grains of sand
And still feeling like I matter more than that smiling girl in the portrait
That I am worth more than the Pharaoh's fortune,
Like my smile has more might than Alexander’s army
Like my body was formed from clay and your breath brought me to life
Like I am the reason that Shaka the Zulu shortened the rod on his spear
Like I’m the pattern of the cheetah’s print: black, brown, and beautiful
Like I am supposed to be here, but I would die for the chance to live with you


Oh baby,
You make feel like-- poetry

Saturday, January 12, 2019

So, This is Not a Poem, Either.

Paterson Poetry Festival
So, This is Not a Poem, Either.


I don't wan

I don't want to write poetry about a white an anti-Semitic  man who killed, among the eleven, a 97 year old holocaust survivor while she worshiped at her synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States of America October 26, 2018. So, this is not a poem.

A poem would help the reader to feel as Mark of
Pittsburgh did when he wrote, “Hard to see the pictures of my brother’s shul, on the street where I’ve walked thousands of times… it feels so personal and so scary and so so so sad….,” but I have, in fact, read Mark's letter and can report that the deepest sadness has a kind of beauty, but a mass murder during shabbat does not. So, this is not a poem.

Sometimes a poem projects a beauty that is hard to perceive like a rabbi and priest in a long embrace bonding over common pain: lives murdered at a place of worship. I can't even imagine the pain that birthed that kind of love. So, this is not a poem.

What would be the point of trying to find a rhyme about murder and hate or whether or not the United States will find a solution when she investigates yet another home-grown terrorist when she insists that the answer is more guns? This, even if the poet could find a rhyme, doesn't  answer those questions so, this is not a poem.
A poem would  inform us that Charleston is now a synonym for Pittsburgh a synonym born in hell, that put us through hell and made us contemplate whether or not we are the last souls before… I don't want you to think about that: heaven and hell or whether or not they even exist, I just want you to be happy, so this is not a poem

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Flavor of Hope

Image and Product Credit: Zazzle.com
Cancer is not just a word.
It is tightness,
like ringing out a wet cloth with two fists
pressed firmly together,
but no matter how long the fists remain clenched
the cloth remains damp;
It is constraint,
like a dietary restriction to two tiny
pomegranate seeds while
the rest of the goddess fruit lay
within reach,

the opposite of free,
like four generations of
Black men in the same privately
operated prison pressed against the
wall while wearing chains;

it is promises to God and country and
mostly questions to self:
i-wonder-if-i’ll-ever-be-the-old-me,
if- I-get-the-chance-there’s-gonna-be-a new-me,
why doesn’t that mirror recognize me?

it is 365 prayers per day,
but mostly for them that can’t
imagine or don’t want
to consider the entire life cycle;

it is strange dreams
tears, fear, medication, pacing,
late night phone calls,
tension headaches,
errors, cellular mutations,
and proliferation like blackberry
bushes in July;

it is distance like standing
In the room with a best friend
and having nothing to say
because these might be the
final words;

it is emotion that gets stuck in the throat,
a lump that can only be sung away
with bellows grounded deeply in faith;

it is like a scooped handful
of mystery filled chocolates
-all the favorite flavors of hope;

it is solidarity in spite of a bitter past,
another chance, perfect strangers
amazing nurses, fasting, reconciliation,
leaping with joy.
shouting! remission!  
praises in every tongue,
pink ribbons,
glory, survival,
and above all
triumphs!